Accepting God’s Love

During his earthly ministry, many of the religious leaders had great difficulty understanding why Jesus would allow sinful people to talk to him. As I read Luke’s account of their reaction, I begin to imagine several of these men watching him from a distance and whispering about what they saw. But Jesus was not unaware of their questions. With them in mind, he told three parables which revealed the answer they needed.

The third of these, the Parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-31), tells the story of a young man who collected his inheritance early and wasted it on wild living. When his money was gone, a famine forced him to fight pigs for a portion of their feed. This degradation caused him to remember his father’s love. Realizing that his father’s servants had it better than him, he chose to leave the pigsty for his father’s mercy. His father, who had never stopped loving him, received him with joy and held a feast to commemorate his return.

But the other son, who had remained faithful, didn’t understand why his father could still love his wasteful brother. When his father found him sulking outside of the house, the boy vented his unhappiness about the situation. “You’ve never thrown a party for me. But as soon as this wasteful one comes back, you honor him with your best! What’s going on?” The father tried to explain that it was good to rejoice at the return of his brother. But the boy didn’t seem to understand. It just didn’t make sense.

If we’re not careful, we can become like the older brother. Forgetting that we were once unrepentant sinners who reveled in sin, we point the finger at those who are lost and forget that Jesus died for them too. “Look at that stinkin’ sinner over there!” And we quickly forget about the amazing love with which God loves we who are stinkin’ sinners! May God open our eyes today not only to the needs around us, but may he also remind us of his incredible love and mercy toward those who are still lost.